Lake County Jail dealing with COVID-19 outbreak

Fourteen inmates, 7 correctional officers test positive for virus

WAUKEGAN -- The Lake County Jail is monitoring a COVID-19 outbreak within the jail.

Over the weekend, four inmates and three correctional officers tested positive for COVID-19. Immediate additional mitigation protocols were initiated, in addition to the other protocols already in place. These new mitigations, utilized during outbreaks, consist of:

* No inmates allowed to exit their assigned POD without approval of jail command

* All inmate programming canceled until further notice

* All professional visits are to be completed in the POD visiting booths, versus face-to-face

* Any inmate transported inside the facility is required to wear an N-95 mask

* At no time are inmates from different housing units allowed to come in contact with each other

As of Monday morning, an additional 10 inmates tested positive for COVID-19, as did four additional correctional officers, bringing the total number of COVID-19 positive inmates to 14 and correctional officers to seven.

All of those who have tested positive are experiencing mild symptoms, and nobody has required hospitalization.

All inmates housed in the jail have been provided opportunities to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. To date, over 280 doses of vaccine have been administered to inmates. The current jail population is 451 inmates.

A number of protocols have been in effect to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 entering the jail, as well as enhanced mitigation procedures should inmates feel ill. These include:

* Enhanced medical screening for inmates and employees entering the jail

* All newly remanded inmates are COVID-19 rapid tested upon entry into the jail. Inmates are then placed in a 10-day hold.

* After the 10-day hold, inmates are tested again, before being moved to general population. All newly remanded inmates are provided an opportunity to receive a vaccine

* All jail inmates are provided ongoing opportunities to receive a vaccine

* Increased cleanings of jail pods

* Minimization of inmates moving from pod to pod

* Established a medical segregation area for inmates with mild illness symptoms

* Worked with courts and criminal justice partners to establish electronic bond hearings, versus in-person hearings

* Inmates who receive a recognizance bond at their initial hearing never enter the jail’s general population area

* Utilizing PPEs for all jail staff

* All inmates wear facemasks when outside of their cell for any reason

* Utilize vacant housing pods to spread the distance between inmates

* Inmates are required to eat in their cell, rather than a group setting

* Regular COVID-19 testing of jail inmates and jail employees

The Lake County Jail collaborates closely with the Lake County Health Department and follows the health department’s best-practice guidance for mitigation procedures. The Lake County Jail conducts regular COVID-19 tests on inmates, correctional employees, and correctional contractors. Over the past year, thousands COVID-19 tests have been conducted on inmates, staff, and contractors.